Lot 563


Attributable to the workshop of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), circa 1680
Carved in deep relief with a floral border enclosing a portrait relief of a gentleman with curly wig and cravat, later mounted and framed, some damages, the plaque 32cm x 34cm, the frame 48.5 x 51cm

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500
Hammer price: £4,000
Bidding ended. Lot has been sold.


The Earls of Essex, Cassiobury Park

Acquired by Frederick Poke, circa 1922, possibly from the contents sale of Cassiobury Park or at some point soon after, and thence by descent.


Owen Wheeler Old English Furniture from the 16th to the 19th Centuries, published by L. Upcott Gil 1909, page 178 

H.Avray Tipping, Grinling Gibbons and Wood Work of his Age, Country Life, 1914, page 77. Tipping describes the plaque as

 "Three other frames which must also be the work of Grinling Gibbons now hang in the inner library. The one is a small oval 12" x 14" and the Turks cap lilies are wonderfully executed. This however is not merely a frame but also an example of bas-relief carving in box-wood, the centre exhibiting the head of a man with a flowing Louis XIV wig and represented, not as usual in profile, but full face".

Grinling Gibbons 1648-1720; The Supreme Wood Carver, The Connoisseur, April 1941, page 141, No. 2. The caption to the Illustration notes and "from Cassiobury Park, collection of F.R Poke, Esq".  Further noted on p. 145 of The Connoisseur: 

"Another relic from destroyed Cassiobury is the oval medallion of a portrait of a man with a flowing curled wig (no.2). It originally hung in one of those small pleasant bays lined with books in the Library. The fine rendering of this medallion with its pierced floral frame points to the hand of the Master himself"

R.W.Symonds, Grinling Gibbons - England's Greatest Wood Carver,   Everybody's Weekly, issued May 24th 1941, page 9 and illustrated. Symonds noted "a small  medallion portrait carved in limewood. This portrait and its beautiful frame was probably done by Gibbons himself.  It came originally from Cassiobury Park, the home of the Earl of Essex". 

Condition report: 

The central oval plaque is secured to the later velvet covered board. The surrounding carved border is loose and not secure. The border with numerous old breaks, worm damage, cracks, some losses, some reglued and some smaller fragments loose. There looks to be some blackening in areas, possibly due to fire or candle smoke over the years. The wood has been wax polished over the years and discoloured to a darker hue with time and wax. There is past worm damage overall with holes obvious and worm tracks in areas to the left side. The whole piece needs conservation and restoration. The later frame is associated. 

Otherwise, inevitable scuffs, scratches, dents, small chips and marks commensurate with wear, use and age.

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